Just two years removed from signing a 5 year/$50 million dollar deal with the Angels, Gary Matthews Jr. probably will start the season on the Angels bench. Matthews has been a disappointment for the Angels, who are loaded with quality outfielders and suddenly have no room for the once prized acquisition.
From the Angels perspective, this is totally understandable. They want to field the best team possible and if that means that Matthews is relegated to the bench, then so be it.
But here's where it's going to get awkward. Matthews Jr. wants to play. He strongly expressed his desires to play everyday and he still believes he's a starting outfielder in the majors. There is no doubt that if Matthews wants to play everyday, it will not happen with the Angels in 2009 unless there is a rash on injuries to any combination of the four guys ahead of him (Rivera, Hunter, Guerrero, Abreu). And keep in mind, the odds of Matthews getting traded in 2010 would decrease steadily if Matthews cannot get on the field in 2009.
The obvious solution to this problem would be to have Matthews waive his no trade clause and move him to another team. However, at this time, any GM who accepts the 3 years/$30 million left on Matthews contract should be declared insane. A better option would be for the Angels to eat a good portion of the contract, but in this economy, why would the Angels want to do that? Sure Matthews Jr. might become a liability in the locker room if he becomes agitated with the Angels, but he can still be productive, even in a bench role. With Matthews Jr. on board, the Angels improve the overall depth and quality of their club even if he is not a starter.
So look for 2009 to become an awkward season for the Angels and Gary Matthews Jr. Because of his contract situation, it will be nearly impossible for the Angels to find suitors. And honestly, there is no reason why the Angels should eat a chunk of his contract unless they get something valuable in return or if they trade him somewhere far, far away (i.e Pittsburgh).
Circumstances like this one usually have a way of working themselves out over the course of the season, but for right now, it's not looking good for Matthews Jr.